Saturday, December 29, 2007

Architecture was her life...

Tonight, C showed me a book about Julia Morgan, a woman determined to be an architect during an era when women didn’t do this kind of work. She graduated from UC Berkeley in 1894 with a degree in civil engineering. Then, went to Paris in hopes of attending the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. But because she was a woman they would not admit her. So she tried again, and in the meantime, she entered every prestigious architecture contest in Europe. After winning many of the contests, the Ecole finally let her attend.

When she returned to SF, she started her own architecture practice. Through her life, she designed and built over 700 buildings in the SF Bay area. Her most famous project is the Hearst Castle. She also designed the Los Angeles Examiner building, the Fairmont Hotel, private homes, churches, and many others.

Morgan was almost forgotten in later years, but architecture critic, Allan Temko championed her work, kept her in the public eye, helped save a number of her buildings.

Her work is beautiful. That is the best word to describe it. Arched windows and doorways, unique window framings and wrought iron designs, such detail in brick and tile work, curving lines, filigree, all so well done. It’s described as being part of the Arts and Crafts movement. Regardless of the label, it is beautiful.

We attended a dance performance in one of her creations. Originally St. John’s Presbyterian Church, it is now the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts.

And we once stayed in an historic hotel in Berkeley (shown in these 2 photos) that was designed by one of her associates, Walter Steilberg. An aesthetic space that nurtures the human spirit. Difficult to describe, but -- curving staircases, stained glass windows, tiled / hardwood floors, special detail inside and out. [And it was spring and the scent of eucalyptus hung in the air…]

It seems that architecture was her life. She never married, nor had children.
And her contributions still stand, 50+ years after her death.
An inspiring, intriguing life.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Shoveling a little snow...

Snow is predicted across the Midwest and the West for the next few days.

And it sounds like some snow jobs have been going on in the TV evangelist world—again. (You’d think they would've learned from the downfall of Jim and Tammy…)

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley has launched a probe into the lack of "financial transparency" into six ministries that teach "the Gospel of Prosperity." This particular gospel preaches that if you live well and give well (donate $$), God will bless you with earthly prosperity ($$$). Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Except that the ones who get blessed are the TV ministers. Some examples:

Creflo Dollar (yes, that’s his real name) took in $69 million, and owns 2 Rolls-Royces, 3 private jets, and 2 million-dollar homes—one of which is an apartment in Manhattan.

Paula White of Paula White Ministries made $39.9 million in 2006 according to an audit. This year, she bought a (another) huge home on 3 acres, with a pool, guesthouse, and 3-car garage.

Benny Hinn sent out a mailing asking for donations for a new private jet valued at $36 million. And his ministry has gotten an "F" rating (meaning "opaque") in financial transparency from Ministry Watch, an organization that watchdogs ministries and publishes a list to advise potential donors.

Eddie Long was accused by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of mishandling funds that were given to a charity that he started. The article said that the charity paid him over $3 million in salary, benefits, and use of property. Long has also written that God told him to get rid of the "ungodly governmental structure" of a deacon board. (Jesus will provide oversight, of course…)

According to one article, Kenneth Copeland has not yet responded to the probe. His ministry has a $20 million private jet (among other blessings), and he’s been criticized for using it for private vacations and to entertain friends. Ministry Watch also gives his ministry an "F" rating in financial transparency.

Joyce Meyer owns several expensive homes and travels in a private jet. In response to Sen. Grassley’s investigation, she now says her ministry will maintain financial transparency, publish their annual reports, have people other than her relatives on the Board of Directors, and have an annual audit. (wonder how large her family is??)

And there’s the recent scandal with Oral Roberts University where Roberts’ son was caught mishandling funds…

Although many people can see through this kind of tripe, there are those who are "snow blind"— vulnerable; perhaps desperate for something good to happen in their lives, perhaps unable to exercise good judgment or make sound decisions. And it’s sad when people are "taken" by stuff like this.

But it’s also irritating that these "organizations" aren’t held as accountable because they are religious organizations. If you are a non-profit organization that is NOT religious, you have to abide by all kinds of regulations. To get the benefits of the non-profit religious tax designation, they should have to be just as accountable—and financially transparent—as the rest of the non-profits.

High time to do a little shoveling...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Time off and snowfall

We’ve had some snow recently, and when snow falls, people rush outside to build a snowman before it melts away. This one’s lost his vision, poor guy; note his "eyeball" in the left corner.

Time off is great. Doing things on our own schedule – yes! Went to a movie, "2 Days in Paris," which we give a big ‘thumbs up’, regardless of what some critics say. Some of them sound like they just "skimmed", rather than actually watched it…

Also went out for a fantastic meal last night: seared scallops, sushi, wine. Light snow falling. Wonderful company. Excellent food. Perfect.

Tried to get a look at Mars last night, but it was cloudy at first, and later, it was out of my line of sight. C and I did take a drive around to check out the holiday lights in the neighborhood. Plenty of red there, mixed in with the other holiday colors. All glowing magically on lawns of snow.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love.
-Margaret Atwood

Advice is like snow; the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into, the mind.
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow.
-Jeff Valdez

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Singing stars and Mars

‘Tis that time of year when carolers begin to roam the neighborhood, looking for a little Wassail or Figgy Pudding. I believe this group was performing O Holy Night…

And according to astronomers, Mars will outshine Rudolph’s nose this Christmas Eve. Mars is orbiting close to earth right now and will be directly opposite of the sun, which greatly increases its luminosity. "It will outshine the brightest star, and won’t be this noticeable again for nine years," says Jack Horkheimer (the "Star Gazer" guy on PBS).

So, now that the clouds have cleared from our recent rain, we’ll have to go out and look upwards, to the heavens on Christmas Eve, search for a familiar red glow…

* * * ** ** ** * * *** * * * *** * *
Mars is a red-tinged planet
With a very shiny glow
And if you look to see it
You will find the moon in tow.

All of the other Yuletides
Santa would have at his side
The shiny nose of Rudolph
Acting as his big sleigh's guide

But this very Christmas Eve
Santa came to say:
"Rudolph, now with Mars so bright,
You can stay at home tonight."

Then all the reindeer teased him.
And they shouted out with glee:
"Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
Outsourced to astronomy."
--Jack Horkheimer

Monday, December 17, 2007

Star fire; rose water

Today, NASA released a photo of one galaxy "attacking" another galaxy. A powerful jet of radiation, x-rays and gamma rays from a large black hole in the first galaxy is blasting the second galaxy. Scientists said this is the first time they have seen one galaxy assault another. The jet of radiation contains a tremendous amount of energy and as it punches into the second galaxy, will vastly change the makeup of its planets, perhaps creating new planets and stars in its wake. The photo is awesome:

And it’s been a Monday in the neighborhood. Fire trucks screaming by our house this morning on our usually quiet street. And backhoes and other large machinery roaring in the alley behind our house, repairing the aging sewer line. We turned on the water—and it was rusty brown. Nice. The local water company told us it was because of the sewer repair; all the rumbling from the machines stirs up the iron and magnesium in the water pipes. But it's safe to drink...

Later found out there had been a fire in an apartment on the block up from us. Luckily, no one was hurt. When I drove by later, they had it taped off and a large pile of what may have been a sofa was in the yard. Maybe it was attacked by a death ray from outer space…

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
The universe contains vastly more order than Earth-life could ever demand. All those distant galaxies, irrelevant for our existence, seem as equally well ordered as our own.
-Paul Davies

When a heart is on fire, sparks always fly out of the mouth.

Water which is too pure has no fish.
~Ts'ai Ken T'an

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Provoking incentive

Stimulus: An action, condition or person that provokes a response. Something that incites or rouses to action.

A day of talk ranging from the personal and family to the lack of creative stimuli at work, possible meanings of a wallpaper pattern, energy power grids, and the situation of rebuilding levees in New Orleans.

Outside was gray, inversion. Hyped up asthma, nosebleeds. But we took a walk anyway, and stopped by a local shop to investigate a delectable candy called Blackberries and Raspberries.

Last night, we journeyed through houses in various parts of France via a gorgeous picture book C gave me for the Festival of Lights. Eye candy. Blueberries and Strawberries. Dream stuff.

As you may have seen in the news, Brad Pitt is sponsoring the Make it Right project to help build "green" houses for displaced residents of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. He has constructed a "pink city" for the time being; structures of pink canvas that represent the 150 new homes that will be built—and to keep public attention focused on the great amount of work still need to be done.
Check it out:

Between stimulus and response is our greatest power - the freedom to choose.
--Stephen Covey

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Trappings of power

Came across a news article about an art project called "Trappings." Tiffany Ludwig and Renee Piechocki interviewed over 530 women across the U.S., asking them: What do you wear that makes you feel powerful? The results are portrayed through exhibitions of photos and videos, a public archive, and a book, "Trappings: Stories of Women, Power and Clothing"(Rutgers University Press). There are also photos and interviews available on their website:

It made me pause a moment and think about their question. For me, rich colors are part of it. Red and black. Clothing that fits "right." Not pastel or frilly. Striking earrings. A touch of makeup.
But there are many aspects of "powerful dressing." There’s the "professional" outfit when doing presentations for work. The "artistic" look I like when going to a play or art opening. The casual "going shopping" attire. And the sporty "doing outdoor activities" apparel.

I wonder how guys would answer that question. What type of clothing—or other items—make them feel powerful?

--Speaking of power, the Geminid Meteor shower will reach its peak in just a few nights, December 13-14. The best viewing of this glorious shower is around 2 a.m., according to the experts.

--And of powerless: In a very close race, President George Bush lost the competition for the "Foot in Mouth" award, given out each year by the Plain English campaign. He was edged out by former England soccer manager Steve McClaren.


He is inexperienced but he's experienced in terms of what he's been through.
– Steve McClaren, speaking about soccer player Wayne Rooney

As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured.
--George W. Bush, on the No Child Left Behind Act

I don't particularly like it when people put words in my mouth, either, by the way, unless I say it.
--George W. Bush

He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.
-Lao Tzu

Sunday, December 09, 2007


A few of the tidbits of international news on the web today:

--A bottle of 81-year-old Scotch sold for $54,000 at Christie’s, in New York's first liquor auction since Prohibition.

--The Netherlands is considering creating an island in the shape of a tulip to deal with overcrowding and to shield the coastline from the rising sea.

--At the U.N. climate conference in Bali, the world's top two polluters, the U.S. and China, say they aren’t ready to commit to mandatory caps on greenhouse gases. (Hmmm, how did The Netherlands vote on this issue?)

--In Annapolis, a man was arrested after an officer found him in a store's bathroom with a $700 fishing reel stuffed into his pants.

--A new species of giant spitting cobra, measuring nearly nine feet and carrying enough venom to kill at least 15 people, has been discovered in Kenya.

And locally:

--A teenager caught a giant rainbow trout from the Boise River below Lucky Peak Dam. The fish measured 30 inches long with a 25-inch girth. (According to reliable sources, his fishing rod was not shoplifted).

--The head of the Idaho Realtors Association says the housing market is still strong. (Perhaps he’s been nipping at some five-year-old Scotch…)

--And our "toe-tapping" Senator Craig filed 45 amendments to national global warming legislation. (Perhaps after he "retires," the Senate Ethics Committee could assign him to serve as the "levee czar" in New Orleans or ambassador to The Netherlands)

You have to wonder about the discoveries of a massive cobra and trout. Why did they grow so large? Do greenhouse gases or global warming have anything to do with it? Holes in the ozone layer? Too much carbon monoxide? Reminds me of old sci-fi movies from the 1950s, like "Godzilla" or "Them." The general plotline: "After being exposed to high levels of atomic radiation, common creatures mutate into giant man-eating, city-destroying monsters that threaten civilization."

Perhaps a new film to promote the local economy could be "The Trout that Ate Boise." After all, fish don’t swallow houses…do they?

Friday, December 07, 2007


A long week of working on grants; squeezing vital information and explanations into tiny boxes on online applications. (And I write concisely in the first place.) The business of trying to sell the funders on the importance of your service, why it deserves funding. Building charts that show how your service is working toward specific outcomes (already prescribed by the funders).You provide them with the number of people who received help, and show them how the need is growing, show them your budgets and audits. But that isn’t enough. They want quantitative evidence – and all you can show is that 98% of the participants stated in a survey that they felt this service helped increase their quality of life – or access to health care – or access to food.

Would people miss the service if it shut down because it didn’t receive enough funding? 100% of participants say YES. But does that matter to the funders? It depends.

Lately, a number of funders have been changing their funding priorities. For example, it seems that funding basic services, such as soup kitchens, or help for elderly, or health clinics that serve low-income people aren’t "in." And with enough funders seeking causes that are more "in", the cumulative effect is that funding for those basic services is cut. Right as the need for those services is increasing.

Certainly, there are thousands of worthy causes that deserve funds. But causes, like other aspects of our society, seem to be driven by trends. And when the trend to fund basic needs becomes passé, then people truly suffer.


Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.
-St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, December 03, 2007

A little jest

Nothing like browsing the dictionary to stimulate jeu d’esprit

Read a news story about a pair of jeuness dorée, a young couple, who, even though they had plenty of money and privilege, stole the identities and credit cards of their neighbors and went on lavish vacations, lived in extravagance. Two years worth of jiggery-pokery going on. The world was their oyster -- until they were caught.

"We were just joshing," they cried. But the Justice turned a deaf ear. Now they have the permanent jimjams, and will have to joust with a judge and jury in the judicial system. When they finally get out of prison, they will have to beg for a jitney. No more jet set for them.

The moral of this tale: Be honest, just, and judicious to attain joie de vivre.

$$$$$$ $$$$$$ $$$$$ $$$$$$

Jeu d’esprit: Play of the mind, a witty comment or composition.

Jeunesse dorée: Gilded youth; young people of wealth and fashion.

Jiggery-pokery: Underhanded manipulation or dealings, trickery.

Jimjams: Feeling nervous, having the jitters.

Jitney: Slang for a nickel. An unlicensed taxi.

A head for the news

Seems like it’s always a too-short weekend. But here are a few news items to cap Sunday night.

Thieves in Sydney, Australia stole 17.6 tons of ham and bacon from a warehouse over the weekend. They left "Thanks, Merry Christmas" painted on the wall. Guess they needed their bacon fix…

A feral cat a Tennessee woman was feeding somehow got its head stuck in a peanut butter jar. Amazingly it survived for 19 days. It finally became too weak to run away, and the woman and a friend were able to catch it and get the jar off. She says it’s now back to normal; eating the cat food she puts out and running if she comes too close.

To truly make it an Idaho Christmas, you can get your friends a Talking Senator Larry Craig Action Figure, which has just been released in time for the holidays. Press his button and he says: "I am not gay, I never have been gay." Speaking of Larry, there are now four gay men that state they each had sexual encounters with him over the years, according to the headlines of today’s local paper.

And a giant truffle, found in Tuscany, sold for $330,000 at an auction over the weekend. Its weight of 3.3 pounds and the bid amount set records. Here, just for the new truffle owner, are some ideas of what can be done with truffle leftovers (from a gourmet food website):

--Cut your favorite cheese into slices, place the leftover truffles over them, wrap tightly in aluminum foil and place in the fridge for about three days. The cheese will soak up all of the essence of truffles, and will make for a decadent fromage.
--Use leftover truffle slices to artfully garnish your dishes for a sublime edible décor.
--Store leftovers (or even whole truffles) with eggs for a few days, you’ll be amazed at how quickly they absorb that heady chocolaty flavor that only truffles have.

With truffle-flavored eggs, all we need now is some ham…


The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.
--Martina Navratilova

If you can't control your peanut butter, you can't expect to control your life.
--Bill Watterson

The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be.
--Raymond Chandler

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Telling time

Somewhere a clock is chiming

In the past, clocks were always chiming;
in the farmhouse of her youth
in the houses of her first marriage
Clanging clocks demanding attention

Now there is soft music in the morning
her lover's gentle snore
and sweet bells on Sundays
from the nearby cathedral

Friday, November 30, 2007


A group of scientists are analyzing over 500 19th century paintings of sunsets -- including those of Turner, Degas, and Klimt -- for evidence of climate change. They have discovered that those painted during a three-year period during the eruption of Krakatoa have much more red than those of other years.

And planets may be forming around one of the stars in the Pleiades (the Seven Sisters). Astronomers are noticing "an extraordinary number of hot dust particles that could be the building blocks of planets," according to NASA.

The world is such an incredible place, yet I get so caught up in the mundane of work. I need an antidote; a dose of wonder, passion, excitement. Like paintings and new planets.

And the story of Gabriela Montero, a classically trained pianist who has an extraordinary gift of improvisation. She regularly improvises using various musical styles while playing traditional classical music, and takes requests during performances, composing on the spot.

From an AP article: "Her ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ begins with a ‘Habenera’ bass rhythm made famous in Bizet's ‘Carmen,’ then arrives at a joyous variation of Handel's melody, but in a Latin style."

You can hear a sample on her website:

Of course, another antidote is that it’s the weekend and I’ll have time to read, write, and play piano myself. :-)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

[The improvisation] just happens in front of my eyes, with my hands. That's what I love about it — its unpredictability. It's the complete surprise and it's just the magic of, even for me, to see how it develops on its own.
-- Gabriela Montero

There are thousands of causes for stress, and one antidote to stress is self-expression. That's what happens to me every day. My thoughts get off my chest, down my sleeves and onto my pad.
-- Garson Kanin

Books - the best antidote against the marsh-gas of boredom and vacuity.
--George Steiner

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Finding a voice

Concerning the spiritual in art:
savoring stained-glass leaves of October
licking chocolate mousse by the spoonful
strumming guitar, singing

lying body pressed with her lover as it rains
painting a deep red room
playing the song in her head on an old piano

finding a voice in a drop of ink

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Unconscious arithmetic?

C is researching his book; looking up the history of guitars. I’ve been playing piano; awoke with another song in my mind, Ray Lamontagne’s "Three More Days" and worked out an arrangement. That song has that "Memphis" blues rock feel I love.

Different images run through my head while I’m playing and composing: shapes and colors moving, apart and together; a silent movie of an old friend telling a story; two dancers in an unrequited ballet; bamboo screens, eucalyptus, and an open window at night; a castle and someone looking out; thicket of trees and brush after it’s rained; a rider approaching on a horse; a storm rumbling through an afternoon sky; city streets at 2 a.m. on a humid summer night; couples gliding together in a smoky bar.

Synesthesia? Probably not. More likely an active visual imagination, like dreaming. But I do notice that tones from the white keys sound different to me than tones from the black keys. The white key tones sound "open" and remind me of a flat sky in summer. The black key tones sound "multicolored", "woody," and have an emotional pull I can’t quite describe. And I notice that difference even playing guitar; B-flat major or minor has a different "feeling" than C-major. But I don’t hear notes as rainbows of colors like some do. And I don’t see letters or numbers in colors, although maybe if I had, I’d been better at math in school :-}.


Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
~Ludwig van Beethoven

Music is the pleasure the human mind experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting…music is unconscious arithmetic.
~Gottfried Leibniz

Music is what feelings sound like.
~Author Unknown

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Carrying the sun

Who is the East?
The Yellow Man
Who may be Purple if He can
That carries in the Sun.

Who is the West?
The Purple Man
Who may be Yellow if He can
That lets Him out again.

~ Emily Dickinson

Friday, November 23, 2007

Flocking together

Two meals in two days with good friends and food. Food ranging from the traditional Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings to the meal C and I made today: pork medallions in an orange-ginger sauce, stuffing with cranberries, peas with fresh mint, Bibb lettuce salad with pears and gorgonzola, and C’s famous pumpkin pie.

Two days with an abundance of food, laughter, good conversation, and friendship.

We didn’t take part in the shopping frenzy today, what with meal prep and all. But we did take a walk, and came upon this "flamingo flocked" house.

According to several articles on the web, pink flamingos have been called "classic treasured kitsch" and the nation’s "unofficial national backyard bird." (And received even more notoriety with the John Waters film).

But "flocked" houses may become endangered. posted this notice:

We are currently out of flamingos.

Union Products, the only company that manufactured the "Don Featherstone" designed flamingos is out of business.
We are very optimistic that the classic "Don Featherstone" signature lawn flamingos will be produced by another manufacturer at which time we will offer them for sale.

Guess we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed…


Birds of a feather flock together.

I understand small business growth. I was one.
-George W. Bush

Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.
-G. Randolph

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Look on the web and you’ll find an abundance of versions of the history of Thanksgiving. In the past, we were taught that the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621 in Plymouth, MA with neighboring Native Americans to thank them for helping them (the Pilgrims) survive their first year.

In another version, the first official Thanksgiving was held by English colonists at the Berkeley Plantation in Virginia in 1619 as an annual day of thanksgiving to God.

And now, a new book has come out, "America’s REAL First Thanksgiving" (Robyn Gioia) that says the first Thanksgiving feast was in 1565 near Saint Augustine, FL, and was a celebration shared by Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez and the native Timucua people.

While the new historical discoveries of this day are intriguing, I would offer that the main point is for us to take time to give thanks for all we have and for all the ways our families and friends have blessed our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.
~Albert Schweitzer

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~G.K. Chesterton

I feel a very unusual sensation - if it is not indigestion, I think it must be gratitude.
~Benjamin Disraeli

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Let it play you

McCoy Tyner CD on the stereo. A pianist who has played with Joe Henderson, Elvin Jones, and the phenomenal John Coltrane. Love his playing and arrangements. Especially his version of Gershwin’s "Summertime". His new CD is a compilation, "Afro Blue." Tracks encompass different flavors of his work, including jazz favorites and a couple of numbers with the Latin All-Stars. He plays with clarity, passion, and a sense of heart. I can see him at the piano in my mind, moving with the music as he performs, with power and grace.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I just want to write and play my instrument as I feel.
- McCoy Tyner

Don't play the saxophone. Let it play you.
-Charlie Parker

Play is the beginning of knowledge.
-George Dorsey

Help fill the bowls

By playing this game you donate free rice through the UN for those who need food. And you increase your vocabulary at the same time. Try it…


Rice is the best, the most nutritive and unquestionably the most widespread staple in the world.
-Georges Auguste Escoffier

Luck is like having a rice dumpling fly into your mouth.
-Japanese proverb

We ran up the hills where, as you looked down toward the sea, the flooded rice fields lay shining in the sunlight like a broken mirror.
-Colin McPhee

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Work and serendipity

Another weekend nearly gone and another Monday on its way. But those are just labels we have put on time. Ways to mark the rising and setting of the sun, the waxing and waning of the moon.

So, it’s another period of night and, hours from now, it will be light again, and I will be expected to appear at my office for a day of work. My particular office was to have been painted this weekend—finished—and so I will be moving my stuff back in during most of the morning. Window will be open and fan running to air out paint fumes. Doing work so I can do more work...

Speaking of work, it sounds like a toney NYC restaurant has a little clean up to do. The Serendipity 3 was shut down by the Health Department after a live mouse, many areas of mouse droppings, dozens of live roaches, and flies were found during a routine inspection. This restaurant was recently in the news for featuring a Guinness World Record setting $25,000 dessert, which included, among other ingredients, edible 23-karat gold.


Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice, and need.

Cockroaches and socialites are the only things that can stay up all night and eat anything.
-Herb Caen

I never kill insects. If I see ants or spiders in the room, I pick them up and take them outside. Karma is everything.
-Holly Valance

A little rain...

Didn't it rain, children
Talk about rain, oh my Lord
Didn't it fall, didn't it fall
Didn't it fall, my Lord, didn't it rain

And then the sun came shining bright
Broke thru the clouds, oh my Lord
Rainbow arcing across the land
A promise, oh my Lord
A promise, oh my Lord

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Playing on stop

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
-Albert Einstein

Ford, you're turning into a penguin. Stop it.
-Douglas Adams

To be nobody but yourself in a world that's doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting.
-ee cummings

If you've heard this story before, don't stop me, because I'd like to hear it again.
-Groucho Marx

Stop in the name of love
before you break my heart

-The Supremes

Stop right now,
thank you very much,
I need somebody with the human touch,
Hey you always on the run,
Gotta slow it down baby,
gotta have some fun.
-The Spice Girls

Oh you'd better stop before you tear me all apart
you'd better stop before you go and break my heart
-Sam Brown

We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
-George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A matter of perspective

Perspective: Point of view or vista. Mental view or outlook on a situation. The relationship of aspects of a subject to each other and to a whole, as in a historical perspective. The technique of representing 3-D objects on a 2-D surface, as in drawing or painting. To tell a story from two different points of view; the person in the sunshine and the person in the shadow.

A day at work. Waiting for the phone to ring. Waiting for the emails to arrive. Waiting for others to make their decisions, do their thing, and get back to me, so I can then do what I need to do.

Perspective: Bored. Restless. Westbound traffic heavy on the street outside. A fan running. Other people talking. Smells like paint. Listening to French Café music. Read a list of French verbs on the internet, trying to stretch my brain into the perspective of another language.

Read the news headlines:

Matt Damon named ‘sexiest man alive’

U.S. sets record in sexual disease cases

Swiss tell German man to learn German

Gay activist group asks Senate panel to end Larry Craig investigation

Economic slump is not expected to last

Objective? Subjective? A matter of perspective…


Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
-Marcus Aurelius

Reality is a question of perspective; the further you get from the past, the more concrete and plausible it seems -but as you approach the present, it inevitably seems incredible.
-Salman Rushdie

We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
-Anaïs Nin

An apple a day...

News, like apples from a tree…

An international panel of pilots and government officials want the U.S. to reopen investigations into UFOs because they say there are too many unexplained sightings of mysterious flying objects.

Some scientists in Oregon claim they have cloned monkey embryos. Meanwhile in New Delhi, squads of monkeys are overrunning the city and attacking people.

A Wisconsin police officer accidentally Tasered himself. And a guy in Washington got frustrated trying to loosen a lug nut and blasted the wheel with a shotgun, injuring both his legs. Hopefully he’s not employed at the local tire store.

A task force of Idaho legislators are discussing legislation to "keep families together." In their view, "single parent homes, most often headed by a woman, are driving up rates of drug abuse and crime." So they propose doing away with no fault divorce and trying to "find ways to keep mom at home," among other things (instead of working on legislation that would actually improve life for Idaho residents). Here’s a quote from one of these intellectual giants: "Divorce is just terrible," Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, said. "It's one of Satan's best tools to kill America."

Maybe we should send for that police officer with the wild Taser. Or better yet, the attack monkeys.

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I tell you, all politics is apple sauce.
-Will Rogers

Why not upset the apple cart? If you don't, the apples will rot anyway.
-Frank A. Clark

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Traveling in imagination

Sunshine and blue skies yesterday, but rainy, blustery out today. C and I walked to the local coffee shop for an afternoon treat and got quite wet. But the hot café, ah tres bien! Worth the wet.

My three-day weekend coming to a close. Always treasure that time off to do as I please, follow what thread I want. Went photo shooting yesterday. Composed music on piano. Good, long talks with C. Traveling within realms of imagination, conversation, music, and golden images.

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Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
~ Albert Einstein

This world is but a canvas to our imaginations.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Harmonics and news

A rainy Saturday in the Big Spud. Much needed rain. Rain becomes percussion as it falls on the roof. Spent part of the afternoon at the piano playing to the sound of rain, working out an arrangement for Autumn Leaves, and playing, practicing many other pieces; my compositions and arrangements.

As our friend P talked about his trip to Europe, he mentioned visiting Château du Clos Lucé where Leonardo Da Vinci spent his final days. I looked up Da Vinci to learn more about this amazing polymath. Even though long dead, Da Vinci continues to make the news. An Italian musician, Giovanni Maria Pala, claims that Da Vinci may have coded a short piece of music into "The Last Supper." He says that if you draw the five-line musical staff across the painting, the loaves of bread and the hands of Jesus and the Disciples could represent musical notes, which, when played, results in a 40 second "hymn to God." (It must be played right to left; the method Da Vinci used when writing notes in his journals). Since Da Vinci was a musician, among his many talents, and was so interested in experimentation within forms, experts say this could be plausible.

In other music news, a Spanish violinist is living in a transparent box for a week on a busy street in Madrid. Patricia Argüelles said she "hopes to gain inspiration from living under the gaze of strangers." Perhaps she’ll find coded music in the dramas and conversations of passers-by. Or maybe she just wants to make the news…


Where you have harmonic proportions, you can find music.
~ Alessandro Vezzosi, director of Tuscany's Da Vinci museum

It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic.
~ Winston Churchill

Friday, November 09, 2007

Where we can go as we are...

Our friend, P, visited this week; shared exquisite photos from his family’s trip to Europe, where he met members of his extended family and visited the farm of his ancestors. What stood out to him was the sense of home he felt there. That this was where he fit in the family tree, where he felt rooted.

That sense of home. What is home? A place? House? Town? Is it with family or friends where you feel like you best fit? Or perhaps a special connection with your job, occupation, life work? That what you are creating and doing reflects a deep part of your inner essence?

There are stories of people who visit a place they’ve never been and quickly felt at home there. Also of meeting someone and feeling as if you’ve known them for years. That "click" of recognition.

We all want to belong to something; a family, a group, a place, a society where we feel valued. A place that resonates with something deep within us. For some, it happens when they are young; for others, it takes years of searching. And some of us are still on the road, hoping for an entry…

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The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.
~ Maya Angelou

My first day in Chicago, September 4, 1983. I set foot in this city, and just walking down the street, it was like roots, like the motherland. I knew I belonged here.
~ Oprah Winfrey

Our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest, which co-mingle their roots in the darkness underground.
~ William James

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A different focus

After so much focus on the lives of pumpkins, it’s time for a more global view since we are all interconnected, like this ethereal globe (made of interwoven metal hangers by a guy who lives in the neighborhood).

A story of connection I’ve been following: "Waiting for Godot" in New Orleans. Performed outdoors against some of the most devastated areas of the city, before overflow crowds. It’s so moving how this play has been adapted and so aptly expresses the feelings of those trying to put their city and their lives back together. It was brought by Creative Time, Paul Chan, and the Classical Theater of Harlem and features local actors. They worked with the community for nine months to ensure that the impact of the production would go on beyond the performances. The play is free; funds have been set up to help local organizations; creative/artistic workshops have been offered for area residents.

And even though I’m not able to hop a jet to go see it, the articles in the Times-Picayune express the power and magnitude of this event. Art can and does make a difference.

Read more about it here, by clicking on the entries about "Godot".


"Where will you go from here?" Vladimir asks Pozzo (who has just been beaten by unknown assailants).
"On," says Pozzo.
"What do you do when you fall far from help? Vladimir asks.
"We wait till we can get up," Pozzo says. "And then we go on. On!"

--from "Waiting for Godot," Samuel Beckett

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Gourdy Tale -- The Final Encounter

Alas, poor Pumpy, I knew thee well!
Excellent spark, hale fellow and well met,
Now gone fore'er into the noodling dark.

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- An aggressive squirrel pounced on a 4-year-old boy in an attack last week in Cuesta Park in Mountain View, Calif. The attack happened as the boy's mother unwrapped a muffin during a picnic.
[Good thing it wasn’t a pumpkin; he might have lost his head.]

Mountain View Community Services Director David M. said that as many as six people have been bitten or scratched by squirrels since May, and that the attacks have become more ferocious in the last month.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Gourdy Tale, Part 3

This morning's investigation turned up remains of Pumpy's buddies.

But later in the day, the remains had vanished
Pumpy was truly alone...

Will he survive another day? Especially a Monday??
Stay tuned...

A Gourdy Tale, Part 2

The next day, All Saints Day, another soul had gone missing.
Perhaps the gourd goons had their sites on these guys...

And on the following day...

Is it curtains for "Pumpy"? Will the killer be revealed?
Stay tuned for the next installment...

Friday, November 02, 2007

A gourdy tale, part 1

Once upon a time, there were four little pumpkins sitting together on the stoop.

On Halloween afternoon, something alarming happened...

So to not frighten the trick-or-treaters, a “cover-up maneuver” was performed…

And so three little pumpkins greeted the ghouls and ghosts that came to the front door that evening. And the pumpkins breathed a sigh of relief, thinking the danger had passed.

But little did they know…

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Cats, gifts and Halloween

With clear weather and no wind, quite a few Trick-or-Treaters stopped by tonight, ranging from toddlers dressed like Sesame Street characters to adolescents dressed like zombies. Some were neighbors; others, we didn’t recognize, but they sensed this would be a street to get a good haul of chocolate.

C and I took turns; we sat in the front room, reading, until the doorbell rang. I almost made it through the November issue of O Magazine.

Read in the news that researchers have decoded a cat’s DNA (without hurting Cinnamon, the cat). Apparently cats are afflicted with over 200 diseases that are similar to human diseases, such as diabetes, a feline type of AIDS, and retinal deterioration. Through further analysis, scientists hope to find new cures, new hope for humans and cats.

Interesting how in the Dark Ages, cats were feared by people in Europe. They believed they were scary and mysterious, animals of the Devil or evil witches. Which is why they are associated with ghouls, ghosts, and Halloween. These days in western culture, they are beloved as pets. And now, the mystery of their DNA may be another gift they give to us.

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When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam,
May luck be yours on Halloween.
~Author Unknown

The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.
~Pierre Corneille

Change always comes bearing gifts.
~Price Pritchett

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A scary time of year

Good e-ven-ing. My name is Bob Beetortib, independent, non-partisan candidate for mayor. May I take a few minutes of your life to explain why you should vote for me?

Interesting that national Election Day occurs so soon after Halloween (and it’s been that way since 1845). Maybe it was strategic planning, to play on the public’s state of fear induced by masked children (or adults) roaming the streets demanding treats.

Fear is a strange beast. We need to have enough of it to protect ourselves from danger, yet it’s easy for it to escalate into panic attacks over non-specific or mundane things. Psychological buttons pushed that directly connect to something bad in our past. Of course, the trick is to separate past from present, dig down enough to discover the real fear, then face it, deal with it.

Like the small masked bandits—or scary politicians—knocking at your door: Trick or treat.

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Fears are nothing more than a state of mind.
-Napoleon Hill

Clothes make a statement. Costumes tell a story.
-Mason Cooley

Eat, drink and be scary.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


A sunny, warmer-than-usual Sunday. Our morning spent at the MK Nature Center amid music of birdsong and waterfalls. Marveled at the shimmering colors of fish as they glided between stumps and rocks. A heron sat on the Center rooftop, silently watching the finches and squirrels feed below. Peregrine falcons eyed us curiously from their rehab cage as they warmed themselves in the sun. Two deer, a doe and fawn, nibbled leaves in the underbrush just beyond the herb gardens; disappeared as we crept closer. Two ducks arced in the sky, around, and down, then skimmed across the pond, a water perfect landing.

With few people there this morning, the park became our sanctuary.


Sanctuary, on a personal level, is where we perform the job of taking care of our soul.
-Christopher Forrest McDowell

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Scary characters

Not a lot going on at work today. Phone calls of people looking for help (legitimate calls). Suspicious callers with thick foreign accents wanting to "update information of your agency" in their "database" so we can receive more phone calls like these and more reams of junk mail. Told the caller today "our information was already updated" and hung up.

Mainly was working on funding requests; wrestling with how to explain how our program "positively impacts the community" in 50 words or less to fit in the little box on the funder’s online form. At least it’s a word count and not a character count, as in "tell the story of how your program improved a client’s life"—in 150 characters.

(The above paragraph is 55 words, 255 characters without spaces, and 308 characters with spaces.)

So, the wind is blowing, leaves tumbling down the streets, and Halloween characters are appearing in front yards and doorways. This along with political characters popping up disguised as lawn signs for the upcoming election. With spaces or without, now beginning to walk the streets of every neighborhood to "update information of our election." It's all pretty sca-a-a-ary…


If I were invited to a dinner party with my characters, I wouldn't show up.
-Dr. Seuss

Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.
-Gertrude Stein

Tuesday, October 23, 2007



falling leaves
hide the path
so quietly

~John Bailey

Monday, October 22, 2007


The Salon du Chocolat is featured on Eric Tenin’s Paris Daily Photo blog today. It's everything a chocolate lover could want; a fashion show featuring chocolate designer clothing, Choco Demos (chefs demonstrating outstanding recipes), "tasty" exhibits, the history and culture of chocolate, beauty and health items from cacao and cocoa butter, an art and poetry exhibit to portray the love and passion of gourmet chocolate-eaters, and a job fair for those wanting careers in the "chocolate professions." There’s even a wall of chocolate graffiti. How cool would it be to attend this! And take photos!

And on the subject of photos: The National Gallery of Art is showing "The Art of the American Snapshot," an exhibit made up of over 200 snapshots taken by people like you and me. Can’t hop a jet to D.C.? The NGA also has virtual exhibitions you can view by using Quicktime. One of my favorites is the work of Alexander Calder, who made lyrical, dancing mobiles and sculpture. Some of them bring melodic riffs to mind. I also see that the Museum of Modern Art currently has a Calder exhibit on display.

For those who have a "shoe fetish," the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has an extraordinary exhibit of shoes—women’s and men’s, from ancient times to the present day. (Look under current exhibits, "Walk This Way" and the photos from the exhibit.) You think we wore high platform shoes in the 1970s? Check out the Venetian chopines they were wearing in the early 1800s.


Chocolate is nature’s way of making up for Mondays.

If the shoe fits, it's too expensive.
~Adrienne Gusoff

The underlying sense of form in my work has been the system of the Universe, or part thereof. For that is a rather large model to work from.
~Alexander Calder

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fall prisms

After the rain and the sun
bursts through clouds
a patch of blue
captured within the
orange and yellow
fall prisms
of maple


Words are the leaves of the tree of language, of which, if some fall away, a new succession takes their place.
-French proverb

Man's life is like a drop of dew on a leaf.

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.
-Walt Whitman

Friday, October 19, 2007

Triple action at work


~ To obscure; darken. A lunar eclipse is caused by the moon passing through the earth's shadow; a solar eclipse, by the moon coming between the sun and the observer.

~ To obscure or diminish in importance, fame, or reputation.

~ To surpass; outshine: an outstanding performance that eclipsed the previous record.

~ Overshadow: exceed in importance; outweigh; "This problem overshadows our lives right now."

~ The consequences of an Idaho senator’s "terrible mistakes" that are "triple action and "long-lasting", but don’t "freshen" or "neutralize" (except to provide comic relief):

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It's only during an eclipse that the Man in the Moon has a place in the sun.

Politicians can do more funny things naturally than I can think of to do purposely.
-Will Rogers

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Music for fall

Dreamed about guitars last night and a room full of people.

Spectacular trees with so many oranges and reds. Today, their colors glowed, iridescent against the stormy sky. Like the beginning of a song…

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With what voice,
And what song would you sing, spider,
In this autumn breeze?

Lean your body forward slightly to support the guitar against your chest, for the poetry of the music should resound in your heart.
-Andre Segovia

Monday, October 15, 2007

Where's a shovel?

Some people just keep digging themselves in deeper. And our industrious senator, Larry Craig seems to be determined to do just that. To try and exorcise his "terrible mistake," he has now filed an appeal to overrule the Minnesota judge who refused to overturn his guilty plea in the "bathroom incident." Legal experts say he’ll have "a steep hill to climb" in trying to win this appeal. Seems like the more he digs, the higher the hill becomes…

Speaking of digging, a new species of dinosaur was unearthed in Argentina, one of the largest dinosaurs ever found, at 105 feet tall. Paleontologists believe it was a vegetarian rather than a carnivore. Now, that’s intelligent digging!

And from England: In a poll of comedy fans in Britain, Oscar Wilde was voted as the country’s greatest wit; a man who knew how to give a good "dig"…

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To disagree with three-fourths of the British public is one of the first requisites of sanity.

I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible.

Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.

--Oscar Wilde

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Living in music

In a different frame of mind lately while recovering from being sick; been hearing music in my mind. Melodies, demanding notation, demanding to be heard in their entirety. Been at the piano the last three days, playing them out, penciling in the notes, chords, rhythms. Pulled out the tape recorder to capture what I couldn’t notate while in the flow of the songs.

Went to a music store yesterday to buy guitar strings. This store specializes in pianos; has Steinway, Kawai, Boston, Pearl River, Essex. A huge showroom filled with uprights and grands. I played nearly every piano in that showroom; checking out the feel of the keys, the tone and timbre of each one. Played bits of various songs and arrangements I’ve been doing for the past few years. Amazing to hear the room ringing with my music, especially from the grand pianos.

While in Ketchum, we went to an exhibit at the local arts center which featured maps. One piece was about 9 feet tall, built as a globe. Walk inside and you see maps covering the inner walls. If you stand directly at center and speak, something unusual and wonderful happens acoustically. As C talked with one of the staff, I went back inside the globe, stood in the center, and softly sang, just to hear the way different tones sounded, reverberated. This particular artwork was actually created as an exploration "on the relationship between cartography and war," according to the brochure. But for me, it was an exploration in sound.

And while talking with a friend today, she mentioned a book, "This is Your Brain on Music," which explores how the brain reacts when hearing music; what parts of the brain light up when listening, when composing, when performing; how it reacts to tonal dissonance and resonance, and more.

Pent-up creativity can cause illness, says C. Perhaps it’s like a flood-high river pounding against an earthen dam. Sooner or later, the river will explode through, and in the process, create a new channel.

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Without music, life would be a mistake.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
~Maya Angelou

i live in music
is this where you live?
i live here in music
i live on c# street
my friend lives on b-flat avenue
do you live here in music
~ Ntozake Shange